Monday, November 10, 2008

FCS Playoff Watch 2008 #2

Series:
FCS Playoff Watch 2008 #1
FCS Playoff Watch 2008 #2
FCS Playoff Watch 2008 #3
FCS Playoff Watch 2008 #4
FCS Afternoon: Countdown to the 2008 Playoffs
FCS Playoffs 2008: Bracket Projection
FCS Bracket Announced: Comment and Predictions
FCS Playoffs 2008: Results and Quarterfinals Predictions
FCS Playoffs 2008: Results and Semifinals Predictions
FCS Playoffs 2008: Results, Final Prediction, and FBS comment

This will be a weekly feature until selection day. Comments, corrections, and (constructive) criticism are most welcome.

Locks (3): James Madison; Montana; Weber State

In the Hunt (27): Appalachian State; Cal Poly; Colgate; Eastern Kentucky; Elon; Furman; Holy Cross; Lafayette; Liberty; Maine; McNeese State; New Hampshire; Nicholls State; Northern Iowa; Northwestern State; Richmond; Sam Houston State; South Carolina State; South Dakota State; Southern Illinois; Stephen F. Austin; Tennessee-Martin; Tennessee State; Texas State; Villanova; William & Mary; Wofford

Living on a Prayer (8): Albany; Bethune-Cookman; Dayton; Jacksonville State; Massachusetts; Montana State; Morgan State; Prairie View A&M

Off the Board: Lehigh; Northern Arizona; Sacred Heart; Western Illinois


Auto Bid Conferences


Big Sky Conference


A surprise at the top.

Weber State (9-2; 6-0)
Their 59-27 win over Idaho State has clinched the Big Sky auto-bid for the Wildcats. With a win against Montana under their belt, finishing the season with a win against Eastern Washington on November 22 and a 10-2 record could yield a top four seed.
Status: Lock

Montana (9-1; 4-1)
The Grizzlies went into the weekend with a slim chance at the Big Sky auto-bid. That evaporated with Weber State’s win. That said, Montana could afford to drop its last two games, against Idaho State and Montana State, and still receive an at-large bid. Winning out and finishing at 11-1 would almost certainly mean a top four seed.
Status: Lock

Montana State (6-4; 4-2)
Montana State could still reach an 8-4 record by winning out, and given the fact that New Hampshire made the playoffs last year with a 7-4 record, it is too early to completely rule out the Bobcats’ chances of a playoff spot.
Status: Living on a Prayer

Northern Arizona (6-3; 4-3)
Three weeks ago, the Lumberjacks were 6-1 and dreaming of a Big Sky title. With the loss to Montana State on Saturday, their at-large hopes have evaporated.
Status: Off the Board


Colonial Athletic Association

Once again this year, the CAA is both the biggest and baddest conference, with seven of its twelve teams still alive in the playoff hunt.

James Madison (8-1; 6-0)
The Dukes are the consensus #1 FCS team in the country, with their only loss coming against FBS Duke. After an idle week, they face William & Mary on Saturday. A win clinches the CAA title, while a loss would leave things as clear as mud. It does, however, come down to this. Should they win out they will be the #1 seed.
Status: Lock

Villanova (7-2; 5-1)
The win over New Hampshire on Saturday improved the Wildcats’ slim chances for the CAA auto-bid. They should not have to worry about that, as a win in one of their last two games, against cellar-dwellers Delaware and Towson, should lock up an at-large bid.
Status: In the Hunt

William & Mary (7-2; 5-1)
Should the Tribe take down James Madison on Saturday, we may very well see a three-way tie at the top which would leave everyone scrambling for tie-breaker procedures. Although a seed would be a long shot, all they need for a safe at-large bid would be a win in one of their final two games, against the Dukes and Richmond.
Status: In the Hunt

New Hampshire (7-2; 4-2)
The Wildcats saw their CAA title hopes all but evaporate, and their seed hopes disappear with the loss to Villanova on Saturday. That said the FBS scalp of Navy means that New Hampshire should take an at-large bid should they win one of their last two games. Both games will be tough; they host Massachusetts this weekend, and close out their season by visiting Maine.
Status: In the Hunt

Richmond (7-3; 4-2)
The Spiders have a good chance for an at-large bid to the playoffs, but cannot be comfortable unless they win their final two games, against Delaware and William & Mary, thus finishing with a 9-3 record.
Status: In the Hunt

Maine (7-3; 4-2)
By squeaking out a 21-20 win at Massachusetts on Saturday, the Black Bears have given themselves a chance for an at-large bid. Taking care of business at Rhode Island on Saturday would set up a final Saturday showdown with New Hampshire which could very well decide their fate.
Status: In the Hunt

Massachusetts (6-4; 3-3)
The loss to Maine on Saturday leaves the Minutemen on the brink, but as winning out would yield an 8-4 record it is still too early, as is the case with Montana State, to take them off the board.
Status: Living on a Prayer


Key games this week:

Massachusetts at New Hampshire
New Hampshire moves into the lock category with a win, while Massachusetts needs an improbable road victory to stay alive.

William & Mary at James Madison
James Madison wraps the CAA up with a win, while William & Mary stays alive in the championship hunt with a win, and moves into lock status.


Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference


South Carolina State (8-2; 6-0)

Despite their win against Howard, and the losses by Hampton and Morgan State, the Bulldogs have not quite finished their business. A win in either of their last two games would, however, yield them the MEAC auto-bid.
Status: In the Hunt

Morgan State (6-4; 4-2)

The loss at Norfolk State has all but finished the playoff hopes of the Bears. Should they defeat South Carolina State this weekend, follow that up by taking care of Hampton and South Carolina loses in the final game of the season, they will, improbably take the MEAC auto-bid.
Status: Living on a Prayer

Bethune-Cookman (7-2; 4-2)

While their hopes for the MEAC auto-bid are gone, winning out would leave the Wildcats at 9-2, and in the conversation for an auto-bid. Given the weakness of the MEAC, they would, however, likely lose out to an 8-3 or 8-4 team from a stronger conference.
Status: Living on a Prayer

Key game this week:

South Carolina State at Morgan State
A win for South Carolina State wraps up the auto-bid, and ends the hopes of Morgan State.


Missouri Valley

The new-look MVFC has become a black and blue conference with the addition of both South and North Dakota State. Three teams are still alive in the conference title race, and two teams have at-large hopes.

Northern Iowa (8-2; 6-1)
The Panthers took care of business this week by blanking Missouri State 42-0, but still must hope for a slip-up by Southern Illinois to clinch the auto-bid. However SIU performs, winning out would but them into the seeding conversation. A win in one of their final two games makes them a lock.
Status: In the Hunt

Southern Illinois (7-2; 5-1)
The Salukis remain the only team left in the MVFC with their fate entirely in their own hands, after escaping with a 24-14 victory over Western Illinois on Saturday in a game where the final score does no justice to its competitiveness. South Dakota State visits on Saturday in a game where a win would not only put SIU into lock status, but make them the prohibitive favorite to take the auto-bid. Winning out puts them in to the seeding conversation.
Status: In the Hunt

South Dakota State (6-4; 5-1)
The Jackrabbits kept their hopes of a playoff berth via the MVFC auto-bid alive on Saturday by trouncing Illinois State. To stay alive, they must win out, including a win at SIU at Saturday, and hope for a loss by Northern Iowa in one of the Panthers final two games. Winning out without a Northern Iowa loss would leave the Bunnies living on a prayer.
Status: In the Hunt

Western Illinois (5-4; 3-3)
The Leathernecks playoff chances evaporated on Saturday with Korey Lindsey’s 48-yard interception return for a touchdown with 1:36 left. (WOO HOO SALUKIS!)
Status: Off the Board

Key game this week:

South Dakota State at Southern Illinois
A loss by South Dakota State here ends their playoff hopes, while a win by SIU should clinch an at-large bid, and paves the way for the MVFC auto-bid.


Ohio Valley Conference


The race for the conference title is still in question, but the computer numbers may not be strong enough this year for serious at-large contention.

Tennessee State (8-2; 5-1)
The win over Eastern Illinois on Saturday puts the Tigers in pole position for the OVC auto-bid, as they have defeated their two top rivals. They face a tough Jacksonville State team on Saturday. Winning out yields them the auto-bid, while taking one out of the last two would leave them in the conversation for an at-large.
Status: In the Hunt

Tennessee-Martin (7-3; 5-1)
The Skyhawks have a straightforward path to the OVC championship. They must defeat Southeast Missouri State on the road this weekend, follow that up with a win against Eastern Kentucky in the final game of the season, and hope that Tennessee State slips up. Absent that, an at-large bid seems unlikely given that two of their wins came against non-DI opponents.
Status: In the Hunt

Eastern Kentucky (6-3; 5-1)
The Colonels were idle on Saturday, but head into a game against Murray state on a five-game winning streak. Should they win on Saturday, and defeat TN-M on the road in the following week, they would take the auto-bid if Tennessee State lost one of their final two.Winning out without the OVC title would yield a long shot chance at an auto-bid.
Status: In the Hunt

Jacksonville State (7-3; 5-2)
While there are tie-breaking scenarios that make an OVC auto-bid possible for the Gamecocks, their chances for a playoff spot are all but cooked. Any scenario requires, however, that they close out their season on Saturday with a win against Tennessee State.
Status: Living on a Prayer

Key game this week:

Tennessee State at Jacksonville State
A Tennessee State win keeps them on the path to the playoffs, while Jacksonville State’s chances evaporate with a loss.


Patriot League

As with the OVC, the computer numbers may not be strong enough for an at-large bid, but the conference title is still wide open.

Colgate (8-2; 4-0)
The Raiders barely survived their visit to Lehigh on Saturday, winning 34-33, and, consequently, the Patriot League picture is less complicated than it was a week ago. All Colgate must do now is close out their season in two weeks time by taking down Holy Cross. A loss would leave them under consideration for an at-large bid, but in all likelihood left out.
Status: In the Hunt

Holy Cross (6-3; 4-0)
While the Crusaders close out their season with two tough road games, their fate is entirely in their hands. They take the Patriot League auto-bid with by winning out against Lafayette and Colgate.
Status: In the Hunt

Lafayette (7-2; 3-1)
The Leopards auto-bid chances evaporated with the win by Colgate on Saturday, but winning out would leave Lafayette at 9-2, and in serious contention for an at-large bid.
Status: In the Hunt

Lehigh (3-6; 2-2)
Lehigh’s auto-bid chances ended with their tragic loss to Colgate on Saturday, in a game which they led by 12 points in the third quarter.
Status: Off the Board

Key game this week:

Holy Cross at Lafayette
Holy Cross stays in contention for the auto-bid with a win, while Lafayette needs to keep winning to retain its chances for an at-large bid.


Southern Conference


Four teams with conference championship and at-large hopes remain in the Southern Conference.

Appalachian State (8-2; 5-0)
The Mountaineers continued their winning ways on Saturday, thumping Chattanooga 49-7. They face Elon on Saturday in a game where a win would not only clinch the SOCON auto-bid, but would go a long way towards solidifying a seed as well. A win in either of their final two games puts them in the lock category.
Status: In the Hunt

Elon (8-2; 5-1)
The Phoenix have the daunting task on Saturday of facing down Appalachian State on the road. A win could result in a three-way tie at the top of the Southern conference, and a collective researching of tie-breaking scenarios. It would also put Elon in a position to take a seed. Winning one of their last two games puts them in the lock category
Status: In the Hunt

Wofford (7-2; 5-1)
The Terriers can still take the SOCON auto-bid should Elon win against Appalachian State on Saturday. As they defeated Citadel on Saturday, winning one out of their last two games should result in an at-large bid.
Status: In the Hunt

Furman (7-3; 4-2)
An idle week has probably allowed the Paladins to regroup from a tough loss at Appalachian State followed by a squeaker of an away win at Samford. They are now out of the SOCON title hunt, but would probably take an at-large bid by winning out. Winning one out of the last two would leave them living on a prayer.
Status: In the Hunt

Key game this week:

Elon at Appalachian State
Appalachian State clinches the SOCON auto-bid with a win, and either team would place themselves on the inside track to a seed with a win.


Southland Conference


The race for the auto-bid remains a mess, with all teams still alive with the exception of conference leader, Central Arkansas (which having probationary DI status is ineligible for the playoffs), and cellar-dweller Southeastern Louisiana. The other six teams in the conference, Northwestern State, Texas State, McNeese State, Sam Houston State, Stephen F. Austin, and Nicholls State are all alive with conference records of either 3-2 or 2-3. The scenarios are so limitless at this point that analysis will be deferred until next week.


Other at-large contenders

Cal Poly (7-1; 2-0)
The Mustangs are probably one win away from an at-large bid to the playoffs, mostly on the strength of their victory against FBS San Diego State. A seed looks unlikely, barring a win at FBS Wisconsin in their final game of the regular season.
Status: In the Hunt

Liberty (8-2; 3-0)
The Flames are alone at the top of the Big South, but this does not, yet, give them an automatic berth in the playoffs. They have a reasonable chance for an at-large bid, however, so long as they win one of their last two games. Should they defeat Elon to close out their regular season, expect an at-large bid.
Status: In the Hunt

Albany (7-3; 6-0)
The Great Danes played a meaningful OOC schedule this year, including 4 schools from the CAA. It is possible that defeating Wagner on Saturday, and finishing 8-3; 7-0 could result in an at-large bid to the playoffs, but this will probably be trumped by a team from a stronger conference with a similar record.
Status: Living on a Prayer

Prairie View A&M (8-1; 5-1)
The Panthers defeated Alabama A&M on Saturday to continue the possibility of SWAC participation in the playoffs. Winning out would, however, yield only the bare minimum of seven DI wins, and that against weak opposition, so their chances remain slim.
Status: Living on a Prayer

Dayton (9-1; 6-0)
As usual, the Pioneer Conference will, in all likelihood, get left out, even if Dayton does win out and post an 11-1 record. Their strongest non-conference tilts were against mid to lower range teams from two of the weaker conferences, the NEC and the Patriot League. The Selection Committee has been consistent in leaving out teams with profiles like this.
Status: Living on a Prayer

Sacred Heart (8-2; 4-2)
The loss to Monmouth on Saturday, coupled with weak computer numbers, means that the Pioneers' at-large hopes are finished.
Status: Off the Board

6 comments:

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When is the opening weekend of the FCS Playoffs? Is it the Friday/Saturday after Thanksgiving?

Profane said...

Indeed it is anonymous.

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